Captain David Skellon
Retrospective Thoughts and Update
So fifty years ago – I had just met Jo in the UK prior to returning to New York for the Curlew “delivery trip” – and then after when I returned to UK in Jan 1963 – we took up together and married the following year creating two lovely Daughters – Katherine and Alex.
My prior job as Captain, and part owner, on the “Black Moth” had come to an end when the boat was sold in the New York area to the VP of NBC Television. An original NEWPORTER ketch built in Newport Beach California as the BALCK SWAN for the Actor Tyrone Power following his success in making a Pirate Movie called the BLACK SWAN – a beautiful – then very modern Ketch – looking like a modern Pirate ship – which I sailed from UK back to the Caribbean and chartered successfully between Caribbean and Long Island Sound in that epoch. I was living in Connecticut (Essex) with time to spare where I met and befriended Sam Fiorello and Bob Geversoni – and CURLEW. They were not experienced deep sea Sailors and wanted to get into the Caribbean Charter Business – which I had been doing with the Black Moth. Hence their invitation to me to “take it on”!!
The British Owner who had acquired the Yacht and returned her to UK following Tyrone Power’s death made me “part owner” – so as you can imagine as a Teenage Captain of the this very prestigious vessel – I was “King of the Castle” – so to speak. Johnny Depp and Co – copied my story with the Pirates of Caribbean Movies !! – But I had much more adventure and fun !!
My love from the Sea was family inherited and born inside – and hence a young teenage apprenticeship with a UK Merchant Navy Training College in UK and thereafter Merchant Navy – from that into Yachting. My other love, however is the Air – and Aviation. Having sold the Black Swan successfully This was the reason to return to UK to enlist into a Commercial Flying School – but their first Course for me didn’t start until Spring 1963. So I had time to kill that Winter – and so went back to Connecticut to take on the Curlew delivery and her Caribbean charter indoctrination.
The Story from then on – we all know!! – How fascinating for me to re-read again last night in your superb website, the Yachting Article I wrote. So I went to sleep – head full of memories and dreams – Subsequently some new ideas to contribute.
After our three days on COMPASS ISLAND – when CURLEW was rescued I remember being back on board when the Tug towed us into Bermuda Harbor – then at night – to be astonished to see hundreds of TV and Press on the Harbor walls and Quays. As soon as able some jumped aboard with Camera crews etc – one said to me “Captain you have been a media epic” (or words to that effect) – to which I recall my response was “well, we did have a spot of bother”!! – apparently transmitted live on Bermuda TV. – causing many laughs etc.
The Bermuda Sailors Home and the Island People were brilliant. Warm hospitality, clothing donated etc. I was there for only a few days – but then flew to New York to deal with the Insurance claim, and also write the Article for YACHTING – The Editor was Robinson (Bill) I think – he thought the story was fantastic – especially when he saw the Compass Island Pictures. Makes the Movie “Perfect Storm” look like Noddy !!
So – soon after back to UK – I took up with Jo – trained and became a young Airline Pilot – several Aircraft and jobs later – I ended up in BOAC (now British Airways) – but – had started a business in UK as a Hobby converting a lovely old Fishing Boat into a Yacht – which so many people liked. So -I designed a modern fiberglass version – and called it the FAIRWAYS FISHER. Which really took off in the 70’s decade. I was flying as my main job but running the Fisher business as a hobby. During the decade: I built and sold Worldwide (helped by BAOC)! over 1000 (many in USA) ending up with a factory in Southampton with circa 240 guys working for me. You can see the Fisher Owners association on the Internet.
Stupidly, I quit flying in 1977 – and have been in the Yacht Industry since. Fisher folded for me in the 1980 recession – so I departed UK to the South of France. I started a new adventure – charter yachting! I bought and operated as Captain/Owner with my then second wife, a 75 ft motor yacht and in the first year we made money – profits – next year a second yacht – then a third – eventually a fleet of 8 (four mine – four managed) but that 89’s decade made money. The business was CTI – Charter Time International. The background template to charter management today.
Late 80’s Back to UK – invested into a motorboat project. I designed and had built the SUPERMARINE SWORDFISH – a 36 ft Aston Martin of the water. Sold about a dozen when we hit the 1991 recession which stopped it dead. The boat, however was a beauty the boat – as you see on the web.
So back to the Med again. In 1992 I started a Yacht brokerage business in Antibes eventually becoming Main Distributor for the Italian Ferretti Group. Did very well out this – especially with Ferrtti’s enormous expansion (Riva, Pershing, Bertram and many other famous brands (all motor) for the last half of the 90’s until I sold this business in 2007 to the Russian Ferretti Dealers.
Subsequently they went bust in the recent World Crisis.
So now – semi retired – living here in the South of France just Inland – 30 mins from Nice, Antibes, Cannes – so I rent out my old marina berths and offices etc as retirement hobby – but recently bought back the SWORDFISH moulds, design right s etc – had Ken Freivokh (who became famous from the original Swordfish) update the project and am looking to re-start to build for only very very special Clients – as the real 40 ft Super Yacht. Maybe do an electric version!